Creative Futures

A Guide to Character Design Research

Character creation is not a new area of exploration for me. As a primarily two-dimensional artist, asset design is one of my favourite stages of production.

However, this semester I wanted to push my abilities further. I felt that in order to strengthen my designs, I would benefit by researching character construction and identify key elements and logical decisions, which in turn results in a stronger response from the audience.

I analysed information from a range of sources, including Youtube tutorials and psychology articles to examine what it is about the human appearance that can impact a persons’ first impression, as this can significantly adjust the betrayal of a character.

I talk about implementing the knowledge that was gained during this research period in this post.

A Trustworthy Face by the Daily Mail

The information contained within this article should be taken with a pinch of salt – that is because perception is objective, meaning that what one person may have a different experience or opinion to another. However, the article does provide information about a study that was conducted by the Columbia Business School to test what the majority of those that participated found to be ‘trustworthy’ qualities.

Creating Characters for Kids by Ann Whitford Paul

This aspect of the research focused on elements of character design that are not directly linked to the aesthetic presentation but can be implemented within the overall visual style. The strongest element within the article was personality – the personality is a significant aspect of a characters’ likeability factor. The challenge is that certain aspects of personality, such as strengths and weaknesses, or preferences, are more difficult to communicate through body language and design. However, this can be exhibited in other ways such as posing, for example.

Character Design Goes Deep by Chris Oatley

In his blog post, Chris Oatley talks about getting to know the character before taking the steps to design them, and how easily it is to fall under frequently made design tropes.The success of creating a good character is to constantly be thinking about the design, and how that represents your intentions. Oatley described the process as ‘getting to know your best friend’ – in other words, the process of character design enables you to explore different aspects of your character that are restricted when you are tied to a specific concept.

Character Sketching with Philip Dimitriadis

In contrast to the points that Chris Oatley had made within his blog post that is featured above, this tutorial follows the explorations of Philip Dimitriadis as he discusses some character tropes that audiences have connected with associated emotions. For example, a very triangular character would be viewed as the villain, whereas a plump and round character would be perceived as innocent and naive.

The research was enjoyable, despite the subjective nature of character design. The information that I have gathered has indicated that while there are preconceived notions of what ‘works’ in construction, the only way to truly achieve something successful that causes a positive response in the audience through a process of trial and error, and by reviewing and working with feedback rather than dismissing it.


Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2016].

Dimitriadis, P. (2013). Character Sketching. Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2016].

Oatley, C. (2014). Good Character Design Goes Deep. [Blog] Chris Oatley. Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2016].

Paul, A. and Us, A. (2010). 5 Tips for Creating Characters for Kids | [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Oct. 2016].


One thought on “A Guide to Character Design Research

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s